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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Magistrates acquits human rights campaigners as ConCourt sets hearing date for Nyikadzino’s election date challenge
    Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
    June 21
    , 2013

    State prosecutors were on Friday 21 June 2013 left with egg on their faces after Harare Magistrate Don Ndirowei acquitted two human rights campaigners charged with forgery and conspiracy to commit fraud or publishing false statements prejudicial to the State.

    Magistrate Ndirowei on Friday acquitted ZimRights Director Okay Machisa, his workmate Leo Chamahwinya and ZimRights as an organisation after their lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) applied for discharge at the close of the State case.

    Human rights lawyer and ZLHR board member Trust Maanda, who represented ZimRights together with Selby Hwacha and Beatrice Mtetwa said that Magistrate Ndirowei freed the human rights activists after ruling that there was no evidence linking them to the commission of the alleged offence. Chamahwinya was represented by Admire Rubaya.

    The trial of Dorcas Shereni, a ZimRights official and two others Farai Bhani and Tatenda Chinaka who are accused of contravening Sections 31, 136 and 137 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly attempting to defraud the Registrar General’s Office by forging and manufacturing counterfeit copies of certificates of voter registration continues next month after they were all put to their defence.

    State prosecutors had alleged that Machisa, Chamahwinya and ZimRights represented by its board treasurer Nunurayi Jena created fake copies of voter registration certificates between May 2012 and January 2013 in a bid to defraud the Registrar General’s office.

    The State claimed that there was a possibility that the misrepresentation by Machisa and his fellow activists could cause “bloodshed or a chaotic situation in Zimbabwe” if the fake documents were only detected during the general election planned for later this year.

    Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court will on Thursday 27 June 2013 hear an urgent application in which a human rights campaigner Nixon Nyikadzino is seeking a revision of the proclamation of July 31 as the election date.

    President Robert Mugabe recently unilaterally declared July 31 as the date for presidential, parliamentary and local government elections. This followed the Constitutional Court’s decision in which seven judges ruled that President Mugabe must set elections by the end of July.

    But Nyikadzino popularly known as “Mao” says the court’s decision and Mugabe’s proclamation violate his rights. He argues that the court’s July 31 election deadline would result in restrictive time frames within which the impending elections must now be held and that these timeframes significantly threaten or compromise his right to vote as a citizen and to participate in free and fair elections.

    Nyikadzino’s request recently received support from leaders of the 15-nation Southern African Development Community, who forced President Mugabe to climb down from a unilateral decision to hold elections on July 31 following a meeting of the southern African regional bloc in Mozambique.

    In an urgent application filed in the country’s highest court, Nyikadzino argues that: “There has not been progress in key and mandatory processes necessary for the holding of free and fair elections. Some of the processes have not yet commenced and some are about to commence. None have been finalised.”

    He argues that constitutionally, it is impossible for relevant processes needed for free and fair elections to be completed on July 31 without violating his rights.

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